Native American Flute [Apr 2019] get a link to this artwork

beech wood, cherry wood, padauk wood, leather, lace ribbon, tung oil
[25" long]

After success in making a wooden thing that makes sound (the camp kitchen whistle), I decided to try making a Native American flute. The kitchen whistle uses closed pipes, but open pipes can also make sound. They resonate at twice the frequency of a closed pipe for a given length. So you need longer pipes to get as deep a sound as a closed pipe. But open pipes have both the even and odd harmonics whereas closed pipes only have the odd harmonics, so open pipes can sound richer. When experimenting, I could not get the simple sound hole and splitting edge used for the kitchen whistle to work as an open pipe. So I wanted to try making a working open pipe.

Native American flutes have a clever fipple design that makes it relatively easy to align the splitting edge with the center of the air stream. So it seemed like I ought to be able to make one work. And I did!

The flute is made from the beech wood with cherry joining two of the pieces. The butterfly on top forms part of the air channel and is carved from padauk. The butterfly will age to a dark brown color.